"It can do things that everyone likes to do like... play Doom... That's how you know it's a real technology."
"The [quadraped] robot itself was made of a satisfyingly tidy stack of Giant Board, servo FeatherWing and Wifi FeatherWing, with a Giant Board and Wifi FeatherWing combo making up the remote control."
The Giant Board is a super tiny single-board computer (SBC) based on the Adafruit Feather form factor. We always want more power in a smaller package, and the Giant Board delivers! It provides a small, powerful platform that is compatible with a wide range of pre-existing accessories. FeatherWing support makes the Giant Board a flexible, drop-in component for most Feather based projects.
We all love our microcontrollers, but in some cases they just don’t have the resources we need to carry out the projects we have in mind. By squeezing the power of an SBC into a package the size of a microcontroller board, the Giant Board relaxes memory, storage, and processing constraints and allows you to take your projects to the next level.
Giant Board (top)
The Giant Board fills the gap between microcontrollers and other single-board computers. It makes a great alternative to a Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone in a space constrained project where you need more power than a typical microcontroller can provide. The Giant Board is based on a form factor that is traditionally used for microcontrollers, so power consumption is important, which is why the Giant Board offers low-power modes.
Giant Board (bottom)
Giant Board Specs:
To leverage all that powerful hardware, the Giant Board runs Linux. Not just any Linux, but full Debian Linux! This gives developers and users access to an endless number of applications and libraries for their projects.
The Giant Board could be used for projects related to:
Adafruit has released a set of libraries that adds CircuitPython support to Linux. Considering that the Giant Board is a Feather that runs Linux…we saw taking advantage of this support as a no-brainer. Since then, Giant Board compatibility has been fully merged and committed to the Adafruit repo! As a result, the Giant Board now has access to over over 100 hardware compatibility libraries.
The Giant Board supports the Adafruit FeatherWing pinout, which allows it to work with over 60 pre-existing add-on boards. And CircuitPython makes this easy to do. Most sample code works with little or no modification, so you can get your projects up and running more quickly.
One of the awesome things about running Linux on the Giant Board is that Linux provides drivers for many FeatherWings. Some examples that we have tested include the Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and LCD FeatherWings. You can use an Ethernet FeatherWing to give your Giant Board access to the Internet, for example, then take advantage of graphics libraries and frameworks outside of Arduino C++ and CircuitPython to visualize data about network traffic on an LCD FeatherWing.
We could not find a Linux compatible Wi-Fi FeatherWing, however, so we made one. It is based on the ATWILC1000 Wi-Fi chipset from Microchip and has a lot of great features.
Wi-Fi FeatherWing Spec:
We love and believe in open source, and we built the Giant Board accordingly. The design files, documentation, software, and more are available on our website and through GitHub. We also spent a lot of time deciding which parts to use for the Giant Board. It was important to us that all of its components be readily available, off the shelf, without the need to sign an NDA. As a result, anyone who wants to build their own Giant Board for a project or a product can obtain the parts they will need from most major electronics retailers.
|Board||Giant Board||Argon||Feather M4 Express||Omega2 Pro||Zero W||PocketBeagle|
|Processor||Microchip SAMA5D2||Nordic nRF52840 + ESP32 Co-Processor||Microchip ATSAMD51||MediaTek MT7688||Broadcom BCM2835||Octavo OSD3358|
|Core/Speed||ARM Cortex-A5 Processor 500 MHz||ARM Cortex-M4F 64 MHz||ARM Cortex-M4F 120 MHz||MIPS 580 MHz||ARM11 1 GHz||ARM Cortex-A8 1 GHz|
|RAM||128 MB DDR2||256 KB||192 KB||128 MB DDR2 + 384 MB swap||512 MB DDR2||512 MB DDR3|
|Storage||microSD||1 MB flash + 4 MB SPI flash||512 KB + 2 MB SPI flash||8 GB eMMC||microSD||microSD|
|ADC||6x 12-bit||6x 12-bit||6x 12-bit||-||-||8X 12-bit|
|USB Host||1x USB 2.0 + 1x USB 2.0 OTG||-||-||1x USB 2.0||1x USB 2.0 + 1x USB 2.0 OTG||1x USB 2.0 + 1x USB 2.0 OTG|
|Wi-Fi/BT||-/-||Yes/Yes (ESP32 on-board for Wi-Fi)||-||Yes/-||Yes/-||-/-|
|Operating Current||Typical 70 mA||Typical 8 mA||Typical 8 mA||Typical 200 mA||Typical 160 mA||Typical 200 mA|
|Size||0.9" x 2.0" (22.8 mm X 50.8 mm)||0.9" x 2.0" (22.8 mm X 50.8 mm)||0.9" x 2.0" (22.8 mm X 50.8 mm)||2.8" x 1.7" (73 mm x 44 mm)||2.5" x 1.1" (65 mm x 30 mm)||2.2" x 1.3" (56 mm x 35 mm)|
|Open Source Software||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Open Supply Chain||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Price||$50||$35 with kit||$22.95||$50.00||$10||$25|
* Some devices have pins that can be set for either UART, SPI, or I²C interchangeably. This is called by different names for different processors. For the SAMA5D2 it is called Flexcom and for ATSAMAD51, Sercom.
Our public GitHub repository contains all of the software, schematics, and tools used to design and build the Giant Board. We also have a section on our website just for documentation and guides, including a guide on setting up the Giant Board. This documentation covers everything from logging in for the first time to building a custom OS for the Giant Board.
We also maintain a community forum for chatting about projects, sharing ideas, and seeking community input.
Now that we have reached our funding goal, we will place an order for parts and begin manufacturing the beta boards. We’ve been working with our US-based contract manufacturer to ensure a smooth production schedule. They provide high quality prototype and production services that have short lead times but are scalable, which makes them a great fit for our production needs. Keeping production with a US based manufacturer provides clear communication channels and helps eliminate guesswork. Should anything change, or should problems arise, they are just a phone call away.
The manufacturer will be handling the production of PCBs as well as populating the boards. All PCBs will be electronically verified. We will purchase components from a large electronics distributor in the US and ship them, in bulk, to the manufacturer. This will help us keep lead times down and allow for a shorter production schedule.
All Giant Boards will be delivered to Crowd Supply’s warehouse for final distribution to backers worldwide. For more information, please see this page about ordering, paying, and shipping.
Production at any scale comes with some risks and challenges. Parts can go out of stock, ship late, or be discontinued, all of which can extend lead times and delay production. This is why we source our parts from reputable distributors that have large stocks of components and can supply alternatives should they run out of something.
Problems can arise during manufacturing, as well, which is why we use a US based manufacturer for production. Clear lines of communication allow us to address issues promptly should they crop up. We will provide updates on any issues that we encounter, including details on how we addressed them.
We have ordered prototypes during all phases of development and have tested our designs extensively to ensure that everything works as intended. Having had prototypes made throughout the development process will also help us minimize the risk that, when we do go to production, some aspect of our design will prove unexpectedly difficult to manufacture. All of this gives us confidence that production will go smoothly and that your Giant Board will work as intended.
A portable hardware kit for experimenting with pneumatics
A global electronics design program to fund, manufacture, and ship amazing products
A powerful & affordable Windows 10 Pro SBC with optional 4G or 5G connectivity